The Eldred decision may rank as one of the dumbest Supreme Court decisions of our time, ruling that the owners of a copywritten piece of work, by the rights of their ownership could prevent the copying of the work for the purposes of preservation of the work for the good of ourselves, society and posterity, despite the fact that Article 1, Section 8 clearly states that “The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;”
Copyright protects for a limited time the right of the author to make a buck from copies of his/her works in order to motivate the author to go to the trouble of producing the work in the first place. Copyright does not protect an idea from being copied, only its expression. This allows the free exchange of ideas in society, for the greater good of all. However, when the owner of a copyright has the ability to prevent any copies from existing, by allowing the original to rot to dust, they are destroying not just their property, but the ability of future generations to ever see the work, clearly not what the framers of the Constitution intended “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”
Doc wrote a great analysis on this case and that, too, was almost lost in the passing of a web site:
On The Doc Searls Weblog, Doc blogs “Recovery. On January 20, 2003, Lawrence Lessig wrote, Doc has a brilliant and absolutely correct diagnosis at the American Open Technology Consortium website about how we lost in Eldred. The link in that quote went to aotc.info, a site that no longer exists. Ever since aotc.info went down, I’ve regretted losing that one post.”
“This was especially so yesterday, when I wrote Web 2.0, Free Markets and Free Culture, at IT Garage. While writing it I wished I could point back to whatever-it-was that Prof. Lessig found so agreeable. All I could remember was that it had to do with metaphor, also the subject of yesterday’s post.”
“Then, when I woke up at 4am, about 15 minutes ago, I thought: Duh! Archive.org and its Wayback Machine! Of course! So I checked, and found that much of aotc.info was backed up there. After digging around, I found the post in question.
So, a big thanks Archive.org for doing its outstanding work.”